Image by Cliff Johnson



How responsive is The Xylom's staff?

Our Founder and Editor Alex Ip lives in Hong Kong (GMT+8) but studies in Atlanta, GA (GMT- 5). Since we are a team of one, we would appreciate your patience. Alex will reply to you within 7 days. (Usually, he responds in one.)


How do I pitch?

If you would like to respond to our open call, fill in this form. You will have the option to write a ten-word story, or if you happen to have a fully-fleshed idea, to pitch us directly. Otherwise, please send an email to with title "I'd like to contribute to The Xylom!". We will get back to you within a week. Please include:

  1. Thesis/ message: (1-3 sentences)
  2. Why it matters (1-3 sentences)
  3. Evidence you have already marshaled, including links (1 paragraph)
  4. Expected length in number of words
  5. Note any visuals you would anticipate, including images and illustrations you have the rights to

What does The Xylom expects of its contributors?

Since we are a conversation, here are some qualities that we want from our contributors:

  1. Share honestly. It’s common sense that trust is built on authenticity. Bluffing or even outright lying only erodes whatever goodwill there is between you and the audience.
  2. Embrace complexity. Narratives will be a part of your story, but cutting everything inconsistent with your narrative will only take us further away from the complete truth, causing more polarization and reaffirming what people have always believed. It’s okay to write about how you feel unsure or vulnerable because all of us have our uncertainties. It is precisely the feeling of internal struggle that intrigues and provokes.
  3. Learn to agree to disagree. Each of our worldviews is shaped by our own experiences. Even if two people share similar core values, they might not agree on a particular subject. If readers do give feedback, it’s important to listen to them first. Treat them not as your opponent but try to see the values, interests, and beliefs that you could agree on.

Is this a paid opportunity?

Yes! Due to the economic fallout brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Xylom is currently offering every storyteller 25 USD, with the opportunity to earn more through the following opportunities:

  1. Thanks to a grant by #BlackinSciComm and COMPASS Scicomm, all storytellers accepted into brack•ish, our BIPOC in STEM miniseries, will receive a 60 USD honoraria.
  2. We have a tip jar on every story page; we'll split 50/50 with you any money that's given through that widget.
  3. If your story is being syndicated, we'll negotiate with the publisher for a syndication fee, which will be split 50/50 between you and us. Syndication fees start at 0.25 USD per word, and we do our best to negotiate upwards with respect to the publisher's budget, our contributor's experience, and the strength of the story.
  4. If you are part of the Medium Partner Program, you can earn through your own account.
For example, member of the Association of American Universities has paid our contributor, a Ph.D. student in their school, almost $200 for their first contribution to The Xylom. In the long run, we're working towards providing honoraria to all our contributors. If you feel energized by what we do, you have the option of donating your honoraria back to us; please also support us here .

Can I have my work published anonymously?

We understand that some topics are sensitive. We want you to be honest and vulnerable without fear of implicating those you care or retribution. As a result, we welcome you to have your story published anonymously. Here's a recent example. Note that you still have to let us know your identity when you submit your draft in order for us to independently verify your story, so to protect you and our brand. All personal information will be kept strictly confidential to the best of our abilities, except specifically authorized by law or by your consent.


How should my tone be?

Our readers would like to learn what makes you you, so just imagine that you are telling a story to a stranger. Use the first person narrative, because this is your story. Feel free to be as formal or informal as you like, but refrain from using profanities. As a bonus, check out these tips from our friends at The Story Collider that will help supercharge your story!

How much should I write?

An ideal length is around 1500 words so that your narrative could be fully fleshed out, though quality always comes before quantity.

I need help with a topic!

It's always okay if you come to us without a fully fleshed-out idea. Here are our bimonthly Open Call prompts to stimulate your thinking:

  • COVID-19*: Stories of solitude, soul-searching, and self-discovery
  • CLIMATE*: Stories of change, action, and resilience
  • brack•ish: Stories of being in between (BIPOC only)
  • ENERGY: Stories of getting supercharged
  • HOME: Stories of making space
*(open to non-scientists) We are always happy to work with you to create your own story!

English is not my first language!

Don't worry, we're here to help! We will polish your story stylistically and get rid of your grammatical mistakes using Grammarly, a free proofreading tool (see "editing" section.) If your first language is Chinese (both Traditional and Simplified), you can even write your draft in Chinese and let us do the rest! [Note: We may receive a small commission if you install Grammarly through the link above.]


What will you edit?

  1. Remove offensive or insensitive language
  2. Fix grammatical inaccuracies using Grammarly
  3. Replace your cover photo/ add photos
  4. Edit your headline
  5. Edit your tags
  6. Add something to promote your article such as links to your other articles
[Note: We may receive a small commission if you install Grammarly through the link above.]

How long does it take for my drafts to be published?

On average, it takes around two weeks for all drafts to be finalized for typesetting. Please note that we release all stories up to one week in advance for our pledged patrons.

Writing on Medium

How do I write on Medium?

Please follow the steps below:

  • You are strongly encouraged to make your own cover photo. Otherwise, you can add an image from Unsplash. (When you make a new paragraph, click the plus sign, then the magnifying glass) Click the magnifying glass for a new perspective.
  • After you finish writing, remember to submit your draft to The Xylom. Click on the three dots on the top right-hand corner, then click “Add to publications”. You should definitely submit to The Xylom!
  • To make the most out of Medium’s algorithms, please send your unpublished drafts if possible. In the case that you’ve already published your article, you are still welcome to submit to The Xylom; just be mentally prepared that The Xylom might not be able to help you generate a large number of views and reads.

I have a Medium account. Can I make good use of it?

Centainly! Since this is our main site, your article will be first published here and then two weeks later on Medium. Your article will be published under The Xylom™’s moniker even if you don’t have a Medium account.

What if I would like some compensation through the Medium Partner Program?

We welcome our contributors to join the Medium Partner Program. It's a good way of getting recognition for your hard work. However, by putting your article into the paywall you agree to provide your unique Friend Link to The Xylom™ so that our followers may get access to your articles for free. This will NOT affect your income in any way. Please take note that The Xylom™ does not pay any of our contributors in any manner and no money passes through us; all payments are made directly by Medium, and you are expected to comply with all U.S. and local tax regulations, including but not limited to filling in relevant tax forms and disclosing income paid through the Medium Partner Program. The Xylom™ will not be responsible for any legal issues resulted from joining the Medium Partner Program.
More details here:

I have a Medium account but I don't want the hassle of publishing myself. Is that ok?

If you would like to submit your article to without publishing on Medium yourself, you are still very welcome to do so. Please bear in mind that you would lose your eligibility to directly make income from your submission through the Medium Partner Program.